Canadian justice officials have asked France to extradite Oblate priest Joannes Rivoire, APTN News has learned.
Ian McLeod, a spokesperson for Department of Justice Canada, confirmed the move in an email to APTN Wednesday.
“Due to the exceptional circumstances of this case, Justice Canada can confirm that an extradition request was made to France in respect of Mr. Rivoire,” McLeod wrote.
“The extradition request was made by the Public Prosecution Service of Canada through Department of Justice officials.”
McLeod noted Canada normally keeps state-to-state communications private.
He did not elaborate on the nature of the “exceptional circumstances.”
He said there would be no further comment.
Rivoire, 92, is wanted in Canada on one count of sexual assaulting an Inuk girl from his time as a Catholic missionary in Nunavut between 1963 and 1993. RCMP in Nunavut laid the charge in 2022 after a 51-year-old woman filed a complaint.
The allegation has not been tested nor proven, and Rivoire told APTN in an interview he is not guilty.
APTN has reported that France is unlikely to act on Canada’s request for extradition since its law prevents French nationals from being extradited for trial beyond its boundaries.
APTN asked French justice officials to comment but did not hear back before its deadline.
Pope Francis, who is presently in Canada to apologize to Indigenous Peoples for the church’s role in the notorious residential school system, was asked personally to intervene in the Rivoire case by an Inuit leader during a visit to the Vatican last spring.
Rivoire told APTN he received a letter from an Oblate leader in Rome as a result. But the pontiff has yet to confirm this or comment on Rivoire since arriving in Canada on July 24.